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LAKE MILLS | A man who stole pigs from a hog confinement near Lake Mills in the fall of 2017 has been given a 10-year suspended prison sentence.

Robert Lee Morales, 21, Benito, Texas, formerly of Buffalo Center, was put on probation for five years Tuesday after pleading guilty to one count of felony first-degree theft.  

He was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, as well as $21,882 in victim restitution. 

A related charge of felony third-degree burglary was dismissed through a plea bargain. 

The theft of pigs from the Christensen Farms hog confinement operation in the 40500 block of 200th Avenue took place on Nov. 4, 2017, according to a criminal complaint.

After midnight on Nov. 5, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office received a report of pigs squealing in the 100 block of First Avenue East in Thompson.

A deputy who responded to the scene reported seeing approximately 50 pigs in a snowmobile trailer with sides on it that had a flat tire.

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The deputy knocked on all the apartment doors in the building the trailer was parked in front of, but no one would answer, according to the complaint.

The deputy sat a couple of blocks away to see if anyone would leave the building. When he came back 10 minutes later, the pigs were gone, according to the complaint.

The trailer was still there, but two vehicles that were at the scene earlier were missing, the complaint stated.

Later that day the deputy spoke to a representative from Christensen Farms, who told him 150 pigs were stolen from a hog site.

Morales' co-defendant, David Cortez Jr., 35, Lake Mills, is scheduled to go to trial April 10 for first-degree theft and third-degree burglary. 

North Iowa crime and courts news for February (with mugshots)

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